A Day of Gaudi

May 30, 2019
Barcelona sunny 72°

It was an early start this morning as the sights we were about to visit today required reservations weeks in advance. We were out the door by 8:45 am and started walking to a bus station that would take us up the hill to Park Guell.

Park Guell

Eusebi Guell worked with Antoni Gaudi on a vision of a park with a high-end housing development in Gaudi’s unique styling. The housing development never saw commercial success largely attributed to the war.

We started at Gaudi’s tiled mosaics on the ceiling of the lower court.

Down a white staircase is the salamander. It was nearly impossible to see through the tour groups and their countless selfie sticks. It required a few elbows to be thrown to get anywhere near it.

The real stars of the show are the two houses further down the steps. They looked like they were straight out of a storybook and built with gingerbread. Hansel and Gretel were probably being cooked inside.

The bird nests and various pathways were just as interesting and more enjoyable as it was off the selfie path.

Outside the paid tourist area was the park grounds. Paths flowed freely through the beautifully landscaped park. We took a trail that led up the hillside and was again treated to another stunning overlook towards the sea.

Everyone converged back at the park entrance at 11 am and we took the bus back down the hillside. It was a long walk back and everyone returned to the apartment for a quick break.

El Born

Leslie and I continued on to the El Born neighborhood.

This area quickly became my favorite in the city. It felt less touristy and more intimate. The courtyards and pedestrian streets were smaller and some of the dark alleyways that would normally give us pause were actually lined with the storefronts of local artists.

We messaged the rest of the group to let them know we’d be going to Tapeo for lunch. We arrived and found them seated on the far side of the long and narrow bar. Leslie and I shared an avocado and quinoa salad, a hamburger topped with foie gras and some patatas bravas. The meal wouldn’t be complete without some of their house vermouth. It was one of the best meals of the trip.

We continued our walk through the area and back through parts explored yesterday. Our next timed ticketed entry was another long walk away at Sagrada Familia. Again the tickets had to be purchased weeks in advance and we had hoped an afternoon visit would show off the stained glass windows. 

Sagrada Familia

We scanned our tickets and were sent into the security screening room where like the airport the bags were sent through Xray machines and people through metal detectors.

With our audio tour guides, we started outside. Sagrada Familia’s construction started in 1882 and is still under construction today. With a planned completion in 2026, this Roman Catholic church was designed by Antoni Gaudi.

We started at the nativity facade, the first facade to be completed. Constructed from 1894 to 1930 it’s dedicated to the birth of Jesus. The amount of detail is too great to write about and in being there it almost requires a pair of binoculars to spot all of the details.

The self-guided audio tour led us inside and as we had hoped the afternoon light was streaming through the colored windows. The room was filled with a warm orange hue. The room towered above us reaching 148 feet in height and was a stunning sight to take in.

Our next ticket time started soon and it was for an elevator ride up the Passion Facade Tower. The elevator dropped the 6 of us off near the top where we took a small spiral staircase up a little higher.

The tower tour enabled us to get a closeup view of the intricate work on the towers too high up to see clearly from the ground. The other benefit, of course, was the great views out into the surrounding parks and city.

The walk down was through a narrow spiral staircase with no inner handrail, just a straight down view to the bottom. The decent was dizzying as the spiral was so tight and the view unchanging.

We exited out of the church to view the Passion Facade. The facade was noticeably simpler with more squared off lines.

It was the end of the audio tour and we left the grounds. We crossed the street to get a better view of the building. It appeared to be a prime pickpocketing area with some thieves carrying old or fake cameras to blend in.

The apartment was an easy twenty-minute walk downhill. We enjoyed the afternoon weather out on the patio with a round of snacks and gin and tonics.

It had been an exhausting day out in the sun. There wasn’t a consensus on what to eat. While Joe, Angel and Graham went to find Tex Mex, Leslie and I went out searching for a salad. The local grocery stores had closed and we found ourselves at a pizza place a few blocks away that got great reviews. We ordered an avocado salad and a spicy pepperoni pizza to go. After a short wait, we returned to the apartment and enjoyed one of our first meals that wasn’t ham on bread. The added bonus was the pizza was fantastic.

Joe, Angel, Leslie and I sat in the living room discussing how to spend our last day in Barcelona. The original plan was a two-hour train ride out to the mountains for a hike, but the idea of four plus hours of travel time didn’t sound all that appealing to me.

We left it up in the air depending on how everyone felt in the morning.